Saturday, 19 January 2013

Scottish National Indoor Track Championships


Glasgow Emirates Arena
This event covered a number of firsts for me:
  • The first time I've visited the Glasgow Emirates Arena
  • The first time I've run an event as short as 1500 metres (i.e. less than 5 minutes)
  • My first attempt at running in over 3 weeks due to ongoing sinus and chest problems
  • And my first race where 95% of athletes were less than half my age
I've also never seen so many race officials. Quite literally hundreds of them.

The protocol for reaching the startline felt quite gladitorial, with calling rooms, special individual chairs, sticky lane number for your shorts, and somebody measuring your track spike lengths. Although I think I was the only person not wearing track spikes. Anyhow, after much build up, I was on the startline in Lane 1 for heat 4 of 7. I deliberately held back on the sprint to the first bend, to avoid getting trampled, and then held back in last position for the first 3 laps or so.

I was worried that my chest was not at all happy about the sudden exertion after a horrible painful infection, antibiotics, and weeks of inactivity. After about 4 laps, I thought I ought to start making a bit of an effort, so jumped past a couple runners and was closing on another. It was all getting a bit of blur by this stage. The only thing keeping me going was the clock at the finish line indicating how much longer the suffering would last, assuming I'd finish somewhere between 4:30 and 4:45.

The laps were rattling away quickly enough but I had no sense of what pace I could sustain, with my mind a complete fog by this stage. It was a relief to hear the bell, and charge around the final lap. My predicted time was 4:44, although I had hoped to be nearer to 4:30. Given that I wasn't sure whether to turn up at all, I was pleased enough to cross the line in 4:44.62, and contrary to expectations, I didn't finish last in my heat.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Review of 2012

Races during 2012

The arrival of Benjamin in January was the major event of 2012, however I still managed a few races.

Benjamin on Day 1
Benjamin on Day 2
Benjamin on Day 2
Benjamin learning survival skills
Benjamin on the beach
Benjamin at the Burrell Collection
During 2012, I ran 60 races and completed one 600km hike across the Alps.

The 60 races consisted of 25 hill races, 18 road races, 5 cross countrys, 5 trail, 5 Parkruns and 2 indoor track races.

The 600km hike was from St Gingolph on Lake Geneva to Menton on the Mediterranean Coast in July, via the GR5, GR55 and GR52, over 15 days. See

Day 14, on the GR52 in the Mercantour National Park
Road races
The longest road race was London Marathon which I pottered round in 2:59-dead, after very little training, and trying to expend as little energy as possible over the 26 miles.

I also managed 4 half marathons: Alloa (1:22), Heaven and Hell (1:27), Balloch to Clydebank (1:19) and Lancaster (1:17) , plus two 10-mile road races: Lasswade (61:43) and Millport (58:54).  I was pleased with the Lancaster Half and Millport 10-mile, which were both the quickest I'd run in 5 years.

I was also pleased and surprised to run 2 of the Polaroid 10k's (Helensburgh and Dumbarton) both in 35 minutes something.

Hill races
I managed 3 races down in the Lakes: Kentmere Horseshoe, Borrowdale and Three Shires.  Borrowdale was my longest race time-wise of the year in 3:52:50, a full 21 minutes slower than I ran in 2003, but I was still happy to jog round in under 4 hours against a super-competitive English championship field.
Borrowdale Fell Race
Towards the end of the season my hill running started picking up after recording a personal worst at Ben Nevis with 1:56:09, I started improving at Three Shires in mid-September by not trying too hard. And managed to hold off Jasmin Paris by a few seconds at the end, partly helped by Jasmin going the wrong way and taking a fall just before we hit the final track.

At Two Breweries, a week after Three Shires, I made my slowest ever start, and drank and ate more than ever before during the race. The net result being that I missed out on a PB by less than 90 seconds for my 11th year in a row at this classic journey across the Scottish Borders.

Three weeks later I ran the Pentland Skyline also for the 11th year in a row, and once again had Jasmin Paris right on my heels the whole way round. I was pleased to finish in 2:54:18, having made up about 10 places in the second half of the race.

I ran 2 Parkruns at the beginning of January just before Benjamin was born, then another one in mid August, the morning after the Tour of Clydeside Bella Belter 10k, then in September I surprised myself with a PB of 17:11, just a week after my personal worst at Ben Nevis. I put this Parkrun PB down to a week's steady training with the Baby Jogger.

Indoor Track
We had 2 unofficial Westies indoor track races at the Kelvinhall over the classic mile distance. I was interested to see if I could go sub 5-minutes.  The first attempt was the night after running a half marathon in Pollok Park, and I only managed 5:13. Two months later I was just recovering from gastroenteritis, but managed a slight improvement with 5:03.

The tail end of the year fizzled out due to illness.  I was selected to run for the Scottish Vets team at the British and Irish Masters Cross Country at Belfast in November, but had to withdraw due to gastroenteritis, and since mid-December I've had sinusitis and chest infections which have scuppered any running for the past 4 weeks.

Looking ahead
Looking further ahead, I have no specific plans for 2013, other than to feel better again at some point, and to hopefully get back to some running. I would like to try a few new races, and maybe to branch out with some slightly longer events.